Documents of the First International 1872

Declaration by the General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association

Police Terrorism in Ireland

Source: Marx and Engels on Ireland, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1971;
First Published: as a leaflet in April 1872 and later in The General Council of the First International. 1871-1872. Minutes;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

At the meeting of the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association on April 2, 1872, MacDonnell, the Corresponding Secretary for Ireland, reported on the persecution to which the Irish sections in Dublin, Cork and other places were being subjected by the police. A commission made up of Marx, MacDonnell and Milner was charged with drawing up a special declaration in this connection. On April 9, MacDonnell submitted to the General Council a declaration on police terror in Ireland. The text was approved and it was decided to print 1,000 copies in the form of a leaflet for distribution in Ireland.

The text of the General Council’s declaration was also printed in the Spanish newspaper Emancipacion with a foreword by the editors quoting MacDonnell’s report of April 2, 1872.

The national antagonism between English and Irish working men, in England, has hitherto been one of the main impediments in the way of every attempted movement for the emancipation of the working class, and therefore one of the mainstays of class dominion in England as well as in Ireland. The spread of the International in Ireland, and the formation of Irish branches in England, threatened to put an end to this state of things. It was quite natural then that the British Government should attempt to nip in the bud the establishment of the International in Ireland by putting into practice all that police chicanery which the exceptional legislation and the practically permanent state of siege there enable it to exercise. How Ireland is governed in a truly Prussian way, under what is called the Free British Constitution, will appear from the following facts.

In Dublin, at the meeting of the International, a sergeant and private of the police, in full uniform, were stationed at the door of the place of meeting, the owner of which asked them whether they were sent officially, and the sergeant said he was, the International having a dreaded name.

In Cork the same trick is practised. Two constables of the “Royal Irish Constabulary” are placed opposite the house door of the secretary of the local section, during the day, and four after dark, and the name of every one is noted down who calls upon him. A sub-inspector has recently called upon several persons by whom members of the Cork section were employed, and demanded the addresses of the latter, and many persons have been warned by the “Constabulary” that if they are seen speaking to the secretary their names will be sent to “The Castle” — a name of horror to the working class of Ireland. [Dublin Castle was built by the English in the 13th century and became the seat and symbol of British colonial rule.]

In the same city, according to a letter received,

“The magistrates have held several special meetings, extra police have been drafted in, and on Easter Sunday the constables were all under arms, with ten rounds of ball cartridge each. They expected we were going to have a meeting in the park; the magistrates are trying all they can to provoke a riot.”

If the British Government continues in this way they may be sure that the last shreds of the mask of liberalism will be torn from their faces. In the International papers all over the world, the name of Mr. Gladstone will be coupled week after week with those of Sagasta, Lanza, Bismarck, and Thiers.

By order of the General Council

R. Applegarth, M. Barry, M. J. Boon, F. Bradnicj, G. H. Buttery, E. Delahaye, Eugène Dupont, W. Hales, G. Harris, Hurliman, Jules Johannard, C. Keen, Harriett Law, F. Lessner, Lochner, C. Longuet, C. Martin, Zevy Maurice, H. Mayo, G. Milner, Ch. Murray, Pfänder, J. Roach, Rühl, Sadler, Cowell Stepney, A. Taylor, W. Townshend, E. Vaillant, J. Weston, Yarrow.

Corresponding Secretaries:

Leo Frankel, for Austria and Hungary; A. Herman, Belgium; I. Mottershead, Denmark; A. SerraillerR, France; Karl Marx, Germany and Russia; C. Rochat, Holland; J. P. McDonnell, Ireland; F. Engels, Italy and Spain; Walery Wroblewski, Poland; Hermann Jung, Switzerland; J. G. Eccarius, United States; Le Moussu, for French branches of United States; J. Hales, General Secretary.